Getting a chef to pick a favorite cookbook is like asking a parent to choose her most-loved child. But F&W pressed great cooks around the country to reveal their top picks of all-time.
The Chef: John Folse
The Book: Paul Bocuse’s French Cooking, by Paul Bocuse (1977)
“It’s the first cookbook that I ever got as a gift,” Folse says. “I got it from an Alsatian woman I met when I was just striking out as a cook. She was a fabulous French chef, her family owned a hotel in Alsace-Lorraine and she’d come to Louisiana after World War II.S he would eat at my restaurant, and gave me the book as a Christmas present. Back then, I knew very little about cooking. It opened whole worlds for me—braises, all the classic French techniques. Thirty years later, that book is still on my kitchen table because it inspired me to look at books. It made me open the leaves and read and learn because I had no mentors at the time.”
“Later, I got to spend time with Bocuse,” Folse says. “He gave me a terrine de sanglier—a beautiful crock terrine with a wild boar sitting on top. He signed it on the bottom, ‘To my friend John, from Paul Bocuse.’ Now it’s sitting by his book on my table. Sometimes when I’m down I look at those two things and remind myself, ‘You’ve met the greatest people in the world in cooking. Get up and go back to work and forget about it.’”